The raised-ranch house with the rebuilt lower level in Williams Bay, Wis., hits the market March 1.
George Kaider hit his new job running Tuesday night. Before that, actually. His new rebuilding job officially began with Mundelein’s District 120 school board unanimously approving his hiring as the Mustangs’ head varsity football coach.
“There’s a lot to like about George,” said Mundelein athletic director Perry Wilhelm, who was part of the interview team that recommended the soon-to-be 42-year-old and former football star for Palatine (Class of 1988). “He just brings so much to the table. Besides having a wealth of football knowledge, he really has a passion for Mundelein High School. He has a good understanding of our kids and he has a great belief that he can turn things around. When we went through the interview process with him, his vision was very well thought out and very well planned.”
Kaider outlined his plan on what could have passed as a book. He presented 32 pages to the interview committee. At Mundelein Tuesday, he was armed with a trifold pamphlet that he wrote and designed with the help of his sons and entitled “Catch the Vision.”
Kaider’s hiring is a good catch for a program that desperately needs a jolt.
He’s so committed to the job that he’s moving his family from Williams Bay, which is on Lake Geneva, to Mundelein.
“That’s the way it has to be,” Kaider said. “You don’t take on the head-football coaching job in a situation like this without jumping in with both feet. You have no choice.”
Flanking Kaider was his family: wife Rebeckah, his college sweetheart, son Jake, a junior at Catholic Central in Burlington; Christian, a freshman; and sixth-grader Sam. Jake, an all-conference two-way lineman for the football team, will finish high school at Catholic Central, but Christian and Sam will be going to school in Mundelein.
Christian and Sam play football too.
“It’s a family affair,” Rebeckah said.
Kaider, a 1988 graduate of Palatine High School, played college football at Winona State and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He then began his coaching career at his high school alma mater under the great Joe Petricca, calling the experience a “childhood dream.”
Kaider got his first teaching job at Lake Zurich and coached football there, before moving on to McHenry, where he spent a decade teaching and also serving on the staff of another great football coach, Mike Noll. While teaching at McHenry, Kaider also served one season as head football coach at Richmond-Burton, leading the Rockets to a winning season in 2000.
He then left to become vice president at Woodstock. But he missed working with kids.
“When you’re an administrator, you don’t get that daily contact with kids,” Kaider said. “That’s what I need to do. It’s what I’m set out to do. That’s what’s in me.”
He realized he needed to coach again and teach all those life lessons that coaches always talk about and that he learned growing up. They made him the man he is today instead of what he called “just another kid from the apartment complex” in Palatine.
“If I didn’t have Joe,” Kaider said of Petricca, “I don’t know where I would have been.”
When Kaider saw his own kids playing youth football, he knew what he had to do. He says his three sons inspired him to coach again.
So he accepted a position at Pekin, moving his family to central Illinois, where he would serve as director of alternative education and head football coach. Rebeckah was also hired by the school.
But in the winter of 2008, while renting in Pekin, with their home 3½ hours north in Williams Bay on the market, the Kaiders walked in and discovered a water pipe had broken, flooding the family’s raised-ranch house.
“We were heartbroken,” Kaider said. “Here we are, (living) far from home. The football (at Pekin) was really getting turned around. I had 100-percent participation (off-season program). I knew we were going to do great things.”
But the Kaiders couldn’t sell their damaged house, especially since the housing market was crashing rapidly. So they moved back to Williams Bay.
“Tough year,” Rebeckah said.
George, fortunately, found work immediately, at Mundelein.
A bad situation suddenly became good.
“Mundelein has been such a blessing in my life,” Kaider said. “I can’t tell you what a special place this school is. I come back from Pekin after experiencing the family hardship that we experienced and, all of a sudden, I get my dream job. I get to be a counselor, which is what I set out to do 20 years ago. It was amazing.
“I love everything about this school.”
If the sincerity in his face isn’t enough to convince you, just ask his wife.
“He’s so happy here at Mundelein,” Rebeckah said. “Look at the smile on his face.”
But coaching football wasn’t foremost on Kaider’s mind when Mundelein hired him. It wasn’t even when Bob Stone, whom Kaider says he great respect for, stepped down following last season.
But then it hit Kaider. It was obvious. Having been at Mundelein for a couple of years already and knowing the coaches and student-athletes as well as he did, knowing what he could offer to the football program, he applied.
“I want the people of Mundelein and the community to know that they can be very proud of their school, and that this is a wonderful school,” Kaider said. “The programming, the academics, what we’re offering kids at this school is really second-to-none.”
His task of building a football program that will compete annually in the rugged North Suburban Lake Division is a tough one. Mundelein went 4-32 in Stone’s four seasons and was winless last season. The Mustangs have qualified for the state playoffs only twice in the school’s 50-year history, in 2004 under Dave Whitson and in 2002 under Jeff Geary.
“The first thing we need to do is put together the best coaching staff that I can possibly assemble,” Kaider said. “To me, you get the right adults in place first. The second thing is we need to create enthusiasm for football. We got to get the athletes in the school that are winning in these other sports to bring that winning attitude to the football program. We got to create a year-round strength program.”
He’s built before. If anyone can build a consistent winner at Mundelein, Kaider can.
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